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13 May 2019

Soitec expanding engineered substrate portfolio into GaN by acquiring EpiGaN

Soitec of Bernin, near Grenoble, France, which makes engineered substrates including silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafers, has agreed to acquire EpiGaN nv of Hasselt, near Antwerp, Belgium – which supplies gallium nitride on silicon (GaN-on-Si) and gallium nitride on silicon carbide (GaN-on-SiC) epitaxial wafers – for €30m in cash plus an additional earn-out payment based on completion of certain milestones. EpiGaN will be integrated as one of Soitec’s business units.

EpiGaN’s GaN products are used primarily in RF 5G, power electronics and sensor applications, with the total addressable market of GaN technologies estimated to be 0.5–1 million wafers per year within five years.

Founded in 2010, EpiGaN was founded by chief executive officer Dr Marianne Germain, chief technology officer Dr Joff Derluyn and chief operating officer Dr Stefan Degroote as a spin-off of nanoelectronics research center Imec of Leuven, Belgium. The founders jointly developed GaN-on-Si technology at Imec, part of which has been licensed to EpiGaN. EpiGaN was joined in 2011 by start-up investment firms Robert Bosch Venture Capital, Capricorn CleanTech Fund and LRM (to enable the installation of its wafer production facility), followed later by ACAPITAL and SPFI-FPIM.

“GaN technology is gaining significant traction in RF and power markets,” notes Soitec’s CEO Paul Boudre. “GaN epiwafers represent a natural strategic fit with Soitec’s current portfolio of engineered substrates,” he adds. “The acquisition of EpiGaN further extends and complements Soitec’s portfolio beyond silicon to create new value-added process solutions for both RF 5G and power systems.”

In the mobility space the co-optimization of performance, low power and cost is key, says Soitec. The arrival of 5G sub 6GHz and millimeter wave (mmW) is driving new generations of base stations compared with 4G, which in turn require more energy-efficient, higher-performing, smaller and more affordable power amplifiers (PAs). Soitec will expand its engineered substrates offering for PAs, with GaN leading the way in today’s smaller, lighter, more efficient and cost-effective base-station designs, the firm adds.

“EpiGaN has developed a technology which is ready and optimized for 5G broadband network applications,” says Germain. “Our technology creates the unique opportunity for Soitec’s customers to quickly develop product solutions targeting new high-growth markets, such as RF devices, efficient power switching devices and sensor devices,” she adds.

“The GaN technology developed by EpiGaN opens up many future opportunities and we believe Soitec is an excellent partner to further develop the full potential of EpiGaN,” comments Katleen Vandersmissen, director of EpiGaN and representative of cornerstone investor LRM (Investment Company of Limburg).

It is reckoned that, given GaN’s use in power transistor designs, the EpiGaN acquisition also creates new complementary growth opportunities across Soitec’s existing Power-SOI products. Both Power-SOI and GaN address the requirements for integrating high-voltage and analog functions in intelligent, energy-efficient and highly reliable power IC devices, for use in consumer electronics, data-center, automotive and industrial markets.

Tags: Soitec EpiGaN GaN-on-Si GaN-on-SiC

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